Wednesday, May 12, 2010

People who laugh in elevators

You're a serious person but sometimes the only way to oppose the corporate world and its folly is with laughter, deep bowel-shaking belly laughter, the kind that ripples out from the diaphragm across the rib cage, abdomen, and trunk, into the jelly regions, filling the nether parts and windy pipes, so you wind up farting, yowling, and pissing at the same time. Laughter is productive. When the corporate world's crazy-think gets to be a little much, that's when you oughta tee up, preferably in public, on a crowded bus or train, or in the effin elevator that whizzes you up to your office in the sky, high above the gilded city, and let your loony laugh rip. Check out the looks on the faces of your fellow pilgrims. See if they manage to tear their bloody eyes away from that little video screen giving them the corporate "news" -- everything from the hourly fluctuations of the Dow to the sexual couplings of has-been pop stars -- to scan the car for the source of the toxic disturbance. You've got to be kidding. Oh my god, who's the jackass?

You wanna hear a real joke? There was a time -- get this -- when workers banded together for the collective good. Heh-heh. The effin simpletons. History crushed them.

You need to make a living so you’ve joined the ambulance chasers with their starched collars, French cuffs, and iPads making small talk with the gray insurance actuaries in their beat-up shoes reeking of tobacco. They go up and down all day, with their strained bonhomie and furrowed brows. Shoot, laugh all you want but they get paid for it. Then there are the buff suburban broads who know how to make copying machines heel trading gossip with the scrawny-necked assistants carrying armfuls of jiffy bags to the mailroom. They too ride this thing from morning till night, pockets filled with lottery tickets, heads full of Big Plans for a Great Weekend. Let loose your Big Guffaw. Watch them react with crinkled noses and rolling eyes, pursed lips and savage stares. Hey little goobers, you think you're at the top of the food chain? Take a look in the bathroom mirror and make a face at the quizzical ape staring back at you. See if it laughs when you pick your nose.

Either you convulse with laughter or you cry yourself a river. Follow your fellow workers into the pantry and watch them reach into the fridge for their little bottles of Poland Spring water with no awareness of just how much plastic they're consuming each and every day, or watch them brew their coffee at the Keurig single-cup machine that swallows its little plastic cup, with no awareness at all of the trash piling up. Hey, the Spanish and Russian immigrant ladies who come after hours in their blue uniforms to collect all the garbage and vacuum the carpet, let them measure the waste. At least they come to work smiling and humming, happy to have a job, happy to be here in New York, here in America, where they can milk the cash cow and become anybody they want to be. They bag the day's waste and whistle while they're doing it, even as the late-working corporate drones pore over spreadsheets, trying to make the numbers work, the numbers meant to sustain their unsustainable corporate lives. It's effin hilarious, poot.

You laugh. These are not the productive members of society, the numbers crunchers and barking middle managers, the strategic thinkers and repro center dudes, the sniveling PR functionaries and soulless automatons in HR, the techno-savants and list makers in IT, the finance guys and stuffed shirts in Security. No way, they're just marking time, unable to laugh at their predicament. That’s why they watch the shows on Animal Planet. Their mission statement -- it's an effin hoot. We are dedicated to batting columns of numbers back and forth and moving decimal points from one side of a zero to the other side. We believe this will result in profits for our corporate masters as well as society at large. We pledge to get through the week without going bonkers, while keeping up on foolish gossip and paying attention to the little video screens everywhere. We will strive to survive the commute, and the weather, and the idiot notions of our bosses, and the ape-like laughter coming from the bathroom stalls. This is our mission. To maintain a straight face.

If you're a serious person, you keep the mission statement front-and-center, right there on your desk. It's the funniest thing in the whole office, funnier even than the photos from last year's holiday party. It makes you laugh until you can't feel your legs any more. It's a real joke. Hey, poot, lemme tell you who the productive members of society are. The people who laugh in elevators. And the garbage collectors.

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